When we are very young children we are naturally self-centered. We feel that everything in the world revolves around us. After all, we are fed, changed and often entertained by the adults in our lives. We have not yet developed an extensive vocabulary or life experiences which allow us to conceptually understand events such as grief, loss, or even nuances in the behavior of others. Our abstract thinking skills take years – into late adolescence – to develop. In some people these skills, in fact, never develop for various reasons. As young children when something happens – pleasant or unpleasant – we usually internalize it as something we have caused because we are still, by nature, egocentric.
As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, sometimes the self-centered or egocentric thought pattern of early childhood continues and we may develop dysfunctional behaviors such as the ‘what if syndrome’ which can stop us from expanding our world and enjoying life.
If the ‘what if’s’ in our lives can be controlled they can cause us to analyze our choices more fully which leads to better decision making. Thinking through the possible outcomes of our choices can be healthy. If, however, we allow this type of thinking to become a syndrome which controls our lives we can become so fearful of simple everyday occurrences that we are rendered helpless – afraid of what the next moment or tomorrow may bring. Obsessing about all the possible ‘what ifs’ of an event or decision can result in panic attacks that may start to control our lives necessitating professional intervention.
We hear the word moderation so often that sometimes it loses its meaning. Yet, it is very important in this context. A little goes a long way with the ‘what if’ type of thinking. Only you – or someone you trust – can observe if you have taken the fear involved in ‘what if’ thinking to an art form level which is preventing you from truly living.
Expanding our life through sound decision making and occasional risk taking experiences will allow us to more fully enjoy our life journey. As Albert Einstein said, “A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”
Have a great few days!
Just like an athlete or musician or any talent, we get really good at what we practice everyday. What are you practicing? Is it happiness, love and understanding or something else?
Positive, caring behavior delivers more of the same. Likewise, if we allow ourselves to be weighed down by anger, fear or sadness we will simply get more of the same tomorrow. The Universe just has a way of delivering to us what is foremost in our thoughts.
Think of the process like a magnet with a negative and positive end. Our thinking is energy. We attract more of the type of energy (positive or negative) that we surround ourselves with. Personally, I feel life is tough enough so I choose to do everything possible to lighten my load by seeing the positives in a situation. Some may see this as Pollyanna thinking. So be it. I have found huge benefits to an optimistic attitude or as Eleanor Porter said in her original Pollyanna books, applying ‘The Glad Game’ to life. There really is a silver lining behind every cloud that crosses our path. Sometimes it takes a little while to realize the purpose, or the lesson, to the difficult event we are experiencing. Eventually, the ‘Aha’ happens and we relax in knowing that everything will work out just as it is supposed to. We simply need to control our thinking and not let perseverating on fear and the ‘if only’ ‘ or ‘poor me’ highjack our ability to handle the issue at hand.
Practicing optimistic thinking takes effort. It does not take work to be a ‘resident critic’ or to find the fault in a situation. That kind of thing is easy to do. Since optimism does not come naturally we need to redirect our thinking each time we realize the ‘negatives’ have taken over our thought process and look for a positive in the situation.
Look at your own life at this moment. You may have difficult challenges to over come, that is part of the human condition. We all experience moments of worry or momentary despair? But it is the length of time we allow ourselves to be concerned or worried about the issue that is the critical difference. A little time to be concerned about a situation is natural – a long time is unhealthy and unproductive. As we worry the issue becomes larger in our thinking and what may have been a mole hole can quickly become a mountain to overcome.
When we force ourselves to find something good or positive in every situation a strange phenomena happens. We feel more empowered, more energetic to face our life challenges and keep things in perspective. Life just seems a little easier. Trust me, it is worth practicing. Next time you have a life challenge try looking for something good in the situation. Will overcoming the challenge cause you to feel stronger, more confident the next time an unexpected event happens? Remember, the more you practice something the better you get at it!
Make it a great few days!